Four African Americans Who have Been Appointed to Diversity Positions in Higher Education

Dereck J. Rovaris Sr. will be the next vice president for equity and strategic initiatives at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. He most recently served as vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Louisiana State University. Previously, Dr. Rovaris served four years as associate vice chancellor for academic and multicultural affairs at the University of Louisiana Health and Sciences Center.

Dr. Rovaris earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. He holds a master’s degree from Xavier University of Louisiana and a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland has named Alisha Knight as associate provost of diversity and inclusion and senior equity officer, effective July 1. Dr. Knight is a professor of English and American studies at the college specializing in African American literature and print culture at the turn of the 20th century.

Professor Knight is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta. She holds a master’s degree in English from Rutgers University in New Jersey and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Marquise Loving-Kessee has been appointed as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hinds Community College, based in Raymond, Mississippi. With over 27 years of higher education experience, she previously served as the academic dean for the Jackson and Utica Campuses of the college and, more recently, as dean of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Dr. Loving-Kessee is a graduate of Jackson State University in Mississippi, where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Annazette Houston is the new chief diversity officer at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Houston worked previously for Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, serving as the executive director of equity and compliance.

Houston holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Langston University in Oklahoma. She earned a master’s degree in organizational communication from Murray State University in Kentucky.


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  1. Dr. Carlos J. Minor says:

    Good job to Dr. Rovaris. He was the Director of Graduate Placement at Xavier University when I was an udergrad. He put the idea of grad school into my mind and I will always be grateful for that.

  2. Iris Outlaw says:

    Congratulations Dereck Rovaris. This could not happen to a better person. I met him during one of my first conferences as a new student affairs professional. He encouraged me to pursue teaching opportunities to expose me to students, who normally would not visit my office. He also mentored my daughter, while she was at Xavier. I will forever be grateful to him.

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